Mary Lou McDonald tells Irish in Australia they have been "robbed of a life in Ireland" 2 months ago

Mary Lou McDonald tells Irish in Australia they have been "robbed of a life in Ireland"

"We will make Ireland the home that you deserve."

Mary Lou McDonald has spoken some damning words about the current state of Ireland, telling those that have emigrated to Australia that they have been "robbed of a life" in their home country.

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The Sinn Féin leader made the comments during a speech delivered to the National Press Club of Australia on Wednesday (20 July).

McDonald acknowledged the huge contributions the Irish diaspora have made to Australian culture, citing the late Dublin GAA and AFL star Jim Stynes, who travelled to the country in the 1980s.

"Jim came to these shores in 1984 and, as you know, became one of the AFL’s all-time greats, winning a Brownlow Medal in 1991," McDonald said.

"Such was the esteem in which he was held, he was afforded a state funeral in Melbourne when he tragically passed away in 2012.

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"His inspiring legacy reflects the trailblazing influence of those Irish who make Australia their home.

"But I also know there is another side to this story.

"A story of the frustration and the anger of many young Irish people who feel robbed of a life in Ireland.

"I know you have been badly let down, particularly by a housing system characterised by unaffordable homes and extortionate rents, by living costs that were out of control long before we experienced the inflationary crisis of today.

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"I understand that you are heartbroken that your hard work and potential could have been wasted had you stayed at home.

"You want to be with your friends, with your family, with your communities, playing for your home GAA club. I want you to know that we are working hard to change things for you, and that we will change things for you.

"We will make Ireland the home that you deserve."

McDonald said that she wished to lead the next government to "deliver a fresh start for workers and build a fair and equal society for everyone".

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"To those young Irish people who want to come home I say, I want you to have the chance of returning to your place of origin," she added.

"I also want you to enjoy your time and your experience in this incredible country for however long it may last.

"So, work hard, enjoy the sun and enjoy the lifestyle, but come home and be part of the new Ireland that we must build. We need you.

"There are no full stops in the work of nation building. Nation building is not confined to the boundaries of yesterday.

"I believe that in my heart and in my soul."

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McDonald's comments come as Tánaiste Leo Varadkar took a swipe at Sinn Féin's policies in an interview in The Irish Times on Wednesday (20 July), saying that Ireland's economy would shrink should the opposition party get into government.

"It might not happen immediately, it might take two or three years, but there will be less investment, there will be fewer jobs, the tax take will be smaller than it otherwise would be, and the cake will get smaller for everyone," he said.